Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Reason Why

MassMarrier says this, of the hard, driven core of anti-gay sentiment:

We nice folk were raised not to make fun of people. The exception should always be for the hateful. Don't ignore them. Don't start a fight. Ridicule them. Let others around know how wrong and just how stupid they are being. A snicker is often more powerful than a punch.

This is like politicians with voter polls. When the culture, the people, move beyond the basest minds and emotions, we can get past the lowest of us. They are dirty. We need to leave them in the dust.

The rationale – if one can apply a civilised word to uncivilised hate – is that homosexuality is condemned by god. To that extent, these people argue, their opposition is different from racism.

Today, it's convenient to forget that the linchpin of white supremacist arguments, before and after emancipation, was that black inferiority was ordained by god. To their everlasting shame, some black clergy have bought into the argument that condemning gayness as ungodliness is different from condemning blacks as inferior works of the creator. There is no difference: bigotry has a dreary sameness that no amount of sophistry can efface.

If gay rights were taken away from these pathetic people as an issue, they'd claim some other object for their anxiety, and say that god called it wrong, evil or inferior. Their other motivation is to invent, or keep, someone lower on the food chain than they are. The deity gives you the biggest reason to dodge personal responsibility. Imagining there is a biped lower than you offers reinforcement for your delusions.

My time on the gay rights picket line last year was illuminating in several ways. It is one thing to sit in a comfortable chair and feel a frisson when reading hate elegantly articulated by a Maryland housewife. It is quite another to have the Maryland (or Kansas, or wherever) housewife hurling her hate and spittle two feet from your face. These people took their children out of school, bused them to Boston, and taught them to scream "God hates fags, death to dykes," and similar terms of christian charity. A Catholic priest somewhere near Boston brought a busload of his Hispanic parishoners to hold hateful signs and shriek similar slogans in English. Cross-examined in Spanish, they admitted they didn't know what the slogans or the signs meant, but they were there because Father told them to be there. the good Father, of course, was nowhere in sight. Presumably he was someplace warm.

Oh, and nobody from that side hugged me and told me they loved me. If that screaming woman had hugged me, I would have suggested finding a room. How's that for ridicule?

The contrast was sharpened by the commitment to forbearance, caritas, dignity (and humour) shown by the advocates of gay civil rights. One of the funnier moments was when two opposing people ended a 20 minute mutual harangue with one of those phony hugs. The anti-gay demonstrator walked away with a Mass Equality sticker implanted between his shoulder blades, oblivious to the reason for the laughter behind him.

Another, more unforgettable incident illustrates the difference between this hijacked christianity and the faith I grew up with.

If you were there the first three days, you had learnt what four to six hours of chanting in the cold would do to your throat. Many people came prepared during the second round with bottled water and cough drops. As time went on, there was a ripple through the crowd of people quietly handing cough drops to those near them whose voices were going. The organisers had brought water this time, and distributed it. Other people broke ranks and went to nearby stores to get more cough drops, then shared them round.

I know now how the miracle of the loaves and fishes happened: it took only a slight lowering of the barriers between people to replace the urge to take care of yourself with the need to take care of others. The alleged christians must forever be denied that insight, because their beliefs are at heart self-obsessed. I will never take a Hall's drop again without thinking of that small miracle.

It's my impression that the A list is off demonstrations for a while, and turning instead to more political tools. That might be just as well. Intellectually, there's no doubt that grass-roots activism, exposure, and ridicule are the most potent weapons against hate, and much better than throwing punches. Face to face with hate of this sort, one's intellectual detachment gets seriously tested. At least, mine does.


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